Gainesville Juvenile Arrest Protocol
What are the program goals?
The city manager and police chief in Gainesville assessed local arrest data and realized that black youth enter the juvenile justice system at a rate four times higher than white youth. Officials examined a variety of pathways to the system, including documented disruptive behavioral issues, school suspension, arrests and violation of probation. Gainesville Police Department implemented a revised arrest protocol as well as officer training to reduce the racial and ethnic disparities in their juvenile justice system.
Florida's statewide juvenile civil citation diversion tool allows police to issue citations to eligible youth, primarily those charged for the first time with minor offenses, rather than arrest them. Data revealed that officers in the Gainesville Police Department regularly arrested youth of color who were eligible for citations, while only citing white youth for similar circumstances. In 2012 the department instituted a protocol that requires an officer arresting a citation-eligible youth to contact a supervising officer for approval and to document the reason for denying the citation in writing.
Who are the partners?
The City Manager and the Gainesville Police Department received site-based technical assistance from The Center for Children's Law and Policy to develop the revised arrest protocol. The Police Department also partnered with the Reichert House afterschool program to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline.
How is the effort financed?
Alachua County, Florida received $50,000 in funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to participate in the Racial and Ethnic Disparities Reduction Project over a two-year period.
Leadership in Gainesville also noted strained relationships among youth and law enforcement officers. In response, the department added the Pennsylvania Minority Youth-Law Enforcement Curriculum to its required training. Developed in Pennsylvania through the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's Models for Change Initiative and tested in local departments throughout the state, the curriculum brings officers and local at-risk youth together to learn from each other about how to best communicate and build community.
Program Manager, Justice Reform and Youth Engagement
Institute for Youth, Education, and Families
Last Modified April 2016